Published: Thu, May 18, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Talks on airplane laptop ban end with no ban, more talks

Such a ban would dwarf in size the current one, which was put in place in March and affects about 50 flights a day from 10 cities, mostly in the Middle East.

The meeting next week is not tied to any decision by the US government on expanding the ban, the official said.

A senior US homeland security official met Wednesday with European Union officials to discuss a likely expansion of a ban on carry-on laptops and electronic devices on USA -bound flights, after President Donald Trump disclosed highly classified intelligence to Russian Federation about a laptop-related terrorism plot.

The dialogue was robust and collaborative, according to a USA senior administration official speaking to reporters at a briefing.

A senior U.S. administration official said there was no time frame for making a decision on the extension of the ban but U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly was "currently considering next steps".

"We are actively preparing contingency plans to support our customers and employees in the event we need to make any policy or procedure changes to comply with new government security directives", United Airlines spokeswoman Erin Benson said in an email.

Iata needs to be told more about U.S. concerns in order to contribute to developing a solution, Mr de Juniac said, adding: "We can provide appropriate advice when it comes to security and protection measures for passengers".

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The declaration further recognizes "the need for global action to reduce both long-lived greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants".

"The United States and the European Union reaffirmed their commitment to continue working closely together on aviation security generally, including meeting next week in Washington further assess shared risks and solutions for protecting airline passengers, whilst ensuring the smooth functioning of global air travel".

The ban took on new political overtones this week after it was reported that Trump disclosed classified information to Russia's top diplomat about a plot to sneak bombs onto planes in laptop computers. Information obtained by a US raid on an al Qaeda compound in Yemen indicated a new explosive chemical that is hard to detect may have been discovered by bomb makers.

Steve Landells, a safety expert at the British Airline Pilots Association, said there was a greater risk of lithium battery fires if larger devices were kept in an aircraft's hold. The agency declined to comment Wednesday but said last month's guidance was still valid. A wider ban could cost travelers more than $1 billion, the group said earlier Wednesday. The head of the International Air Transport Association on Tuesday expressed serious concerns about the ban and urged leaders to consider other enhanced screening methods as an alternative.

The airline industry came out against the proposal in a strongly worded letter that said it would cause a severe downturn in trans-Atlantic air travel and cost travelers more than a billion dollars in lost time.

"We are not sure that this ban is adapted to the threat". Other possibilities include deploying more specially trained security officers and explosives-detecting dogs.

Experts estimate that up to 90 percent of passengers routinely use the banned devices inflight, while airlines with service to the U.S. observe that the ban will decrease its lucrative business-class travel. Emirates, the Middle East's largest airline, this month cited the ban as one of the reasons for an 80 percent drop in profits previous year. The U.S. delegation, led by Homeland Security Department Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke, wanted to hear European Commission concerns that a ban may be disruptive to the aviation system, said the official, who gave the briefing on condition that he not be identified.

Information for this article was contributed by Michael Birnbaum, Lori Aratani and Annabell Van den Berghe of The Washington Post and by Lorne Cook, Lori Hinnant and Ken Guggenheim of The Associated Press.

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